February 12, 2021

Higher Ed Policy Roundup: Vol. 5 - Issue 4

Policy and Advocacy


This Week in Washington

On Tuesday, officials from the Biden administration outlined five higher education priorities that they hope to focus on during this term. Included in the priorities are doubling and indexing with inflation the maximum Pell Grant, capping income-driven repayment (IDR) plans at five percent of an individual’s discretionary income, and forgiving loans paid under IDR plans after 20 years. The five priorities are expected to cost $750 billion over 10 years.

The House Education and Labor Committee released its COVID-19 proposal which, if passed, will be part of a larger stimulus package Democrats hope to move through the budget reconciliation process, which requires only a simple majority to pass the Senate. Of the $300 billion in funding the bill proposes, $39.6 billion would go to the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund to support students and institutions of higher education with the economic fallout of COVID-19. The committee held a markup on Tuesday and the bill will head to the House for a final vote.

On Thursday, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee advanced the nomination of Dr. Miguel Cardona to be Secretary of Education by a bipartisan vote of 17-5.

News You Can Use

Student loan servicer agrees to borrower relief in a Massachusetts lawsuit related to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.

Analysis of FAFSA data signals a decline in low-income and minority students completing the application, which could lead to lower rates of college-going for these groups.

A new report by the Center for Responsible Lending shows how defaulted student loan borrowers  may be ineligible for COVID-19 small business help.

Recent Legislation

The following bill(s) have been recently introduced for consideration by the 117th Congress (2021-2022):

H.R. 891Students and Families Empowerment Act [Rep. Rice (D-NY-04)] would remove the $2,500 student loan interest deduction cap, remove the income limits on student loan interest deductions, and extend the post-graduation repayment grace period by an additional six months.

H.R. 902Decreasing Employees Burdensome Taxes from Student Loans Act (DEBT Act) [Rep. Steve Stivers (R-OH-16)] would allow employers to make non-taxable contributions of up to $10,000 per year to pay their employee’s student loans.